Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
I had this opportunity recently, though I didn’t choose it consciously the first time around. My friend Kate mentioned that a local yoga studio was having a “Community Day”, where all classes and events were free. We made last-minute plans to attend two of them.
The first was a Yin Yoga class, which Kate said was a gentle, healing kind of yoga. I’m in! I have been an athlete all my life despite some pretty bad injuries and enjoy physical challenges. It sounded relaxing.
What I discovered was that in all the physical challenges I usually pursue (running, biking, swimming, dog agility and conformation, golf, hiking, weight lifting), I have found ways to compensate for my old neck and knee injuries. Being a novice at Yin Yoga and attempting poses I’d not tried before did not allow for this compensation. I felt embarrassed, humbled and frustrated.
Why was this useful? Because it made me confront some fears about being inadequate, not looking good and vulnerability to injury – and not just with respect to yoga. When we achieve competence in many areas of our lives, we tend to view ourselves that way and forget what it’s like to struggle. And you know what? We are surrounded by people struggling every day, many of them close to us. It opened up my eyes and my compassion to this. And when we do that, we are able to connect more closely with others and also with ourselves. That is what made the class valuable to me, despite my discomfort, at times almost to the point of tears. I wanted so badly to be at least adequate at this endeavor, and I wasn’t.
The big surprise came in the hours afterward. I got a huge emotional lift! And no, not just because the physical pain was over. I think it was because I hadn’t experienced being humbled recently and then still being accepted and liked. That is a powerful thing. Why? Because it allows us to take risks, which is the catalyst for growth. And if we’re concerned about looking good, that’s something we don’t want to risk. If we only do what we’re already competent in, we forget how to learn as a beginner. And the ability to learn throughout your life is becoming an essential competency, in business and your personal life. The world simply moves too fast to keep up otherwise.
If you want to try this, here are my recommended guidelines:
– It should be in a public venue – it’s much easier to feel humbled in front of people.
– Choose something that won’t endanger your life – it’s OK to go to a karaoke night vs. skydiving.
– Even when things get super uncomfortable, resist the urge to withdraw or say, “I can’t.” So what if you can’t? Try anyway.
– Afterward, enjoy the rush and take note of your feelings and what you learned.
– Repeat at least monthly, for the rest of your life!
I went back to that class the following week, determined to do better. I did a little better and I still experienced plenty of pain, frustration and that feeling of being humbled. And I also got the same buoyed spirits afterward. Crazy, huh? I’m going to go again, too. The payoff is just too good to miss.
What about you? What opportunity will you seek out to be humbled?
Read more posts by Ginger Jenks, JenningsWire blogger.